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Experience Bloating While Fasting? Here Is Why

7 min read
a woman with bloated stomach, bloating while fasting
Melissa Mitri post Reviewer Melissa Mitri post Reviewer
Verified by Melissa Mitri
MS, Registered Dietitian, Former President of CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

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Intermittent fasting is a successful weight loss strategy that provides several benefits. While many people enjoy weight loss results produced by intermittent fasting, some might experience certain fasting-related side effects such as diarrhea or bloating. 

These occurrences are especially common during the first few weeks of starting a fasting regimen.

If you’ve ever experienced any of these side effects, you might have found that they make getting used to fasting a little difficult. They might even have made you second-guess your decision to start intermittent fasting. 

In today’s post, we’re discussing one side effect in particular: bloating while fasting. Does fasting make you bloated? How can you prevent bloating while you’re fasting? Let’s find out. 

Does Fasting Cause Bloating?

Bloating is a fairly common symptom among many people, and there’s usually no reason to worry. However, if you notice that it doesn’t resolve naturally or recurs frequently, you should get yourself checked. 

That said, there is no scientific evidence to claim that fasting causes bloating. On the contrary, intermittent fasting can improve abdominal distension, which often comes along with bloating [1]

However, you might find yourself bloated when you’re practicing fasting, and there can be several underlying reasons. 

Is It Normal To Be Gassy During Intermittent Fasting?

While it’s not directly associated with intermittent fasting, you may feel gassy and bloated while fasting.

Most of the time, the reasons behind these symptoms are your diet and certain other habits, not the fasting regimen. Let’s dive into the details. 

10 Causes of Bloating While Fasting

Bloating can occur due to various reasons ranging from your dietary choices to your water intake. Following is a list of possible causes why you experience bloating after fasting.

1. Gas-producing foods or drinks

Certain foods and drinks can increase gas production inside the gut and cause bloating. Examples include beans, onions, broccoli, and carbonated drinks. 

If you consume too much of these foods or beverages during your eating window, you may get bloated after fasting.[2]

Another possible reason is breaking your fast with the wrong foods. Learn what foods to avoid when breaking a fast.

2. Eating too much or too quickly

If you overload your digestive system with a large amount of food within a short period, your gut will have difficulty digesting food properly. This will lead to digestive issues and can lead to bloating.

3. Food intolerances

Some people react adversely to some foods, while others can’t properly digest specific food groups. These conditions can cause bloating as they lead to excess gas production. 

For instance, people with lactose intolerance can’t digest lactose properly. When this happens,  lactose gets fermented by the bacteria in their gut, releasing various gases [3]. A similar thing happens in people who are gluten intolerant [4]

4. Not eating enough fiber

If you eat too little fiber, you’re more likely to get constipated. Also, a meal lacking in fiber doesn’t properly move along the digestive tract. This makes gas get trapped inside, causing bloating. 

5. Eating too much fiber

On the other hand, meals rich in dietary fiber have also been noted to increase the risk of bloating [5]. Too much fiber can promote gas production, thus resulting in bloating. 

If you are not used to eating a lot of fiber in your diet, it’s best to gradually increase your intake to allow your digestive system to adjust.

6. Medications

Some medications, such as NSAIDs and antibiotics, can damage the gut lining and cause bloating. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects of any medications you take while intermittent fasting.

7. Dehydration

Dehydration can result in constipation, which then, in turn, can cause bloating. 

8. Chewing gum

While this sounds a little far-fetched, chewing gum is one common reason behind bloating [6]. You swallow air when you chew gum, which will then trap inside your gut. This air build-up will cause bloating and gut distension.

9. Drinking through straws

If you’re used to drinking using straws, it can be the reason for your bloating during intermittent fasting. Like gum chewing, you gulp air while sipping through a straw, and this air gets trapped inside your digestive tract, making you bloated. 

10. Other medical conditions

Gut-related health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can also result in bloating.

How to Stop Bloating After Fasting

Here’s what you can do to prevent and relieve bloating while fasting.

Pay attention to your food choices

Keep records of the food you eat and how these foods make you feel. If you find that you get bloated after eating certain foods, eliminate them from your diet. Also, incorporate a healthy amount of fibrous foods into your diet and gradually increase the amount over time. 

As we explained earlier, too much or too little fiber can cause digestive issues that can cause bloating. If you drink too many carbonated beverages, limit your intake and see if the bloating goes away. 

Slow down eating and space your meals evenly within your eating window

It’s normal to get hungry during fasting, but if you try to stuff in a large meal just after breaking your fast, you’ll probably get too full too quickly. This can result in a bloated belly. 

Try to eat slowly and spread your meals within your eating window, giving enough time for your digestive system to work properly.

Drink plenty of water

Although you are expected to restrict your food intake, you can drink as much water as you can while fasting, as intermittent fasting rules don’t limit your water intake during your fasting window. Water is important to soften stools, thus relieving constipation and bloat. 

Water is also essential to effectively digest your food [7]. Both constipation and impaired digestion can result in bloating, while proper hydration can prevent this situation.

Engage in light exercises

Exercising can help promote bowel movements, thus alleviating bloating. Keep the movements slow and gentle, as doing intense workouts while bloating can be uncomfortable.

Talk to your doctor about your medications

If you suspect that one of your medications is making you bloated, talk to your doctor about their potential side effects and possible alternatives. 

Bottom Line

  • While bloating is a common digestive issue many people experience, some associate it with intermittent fasting.
  • Although you can experience bloating during intermittent fasting, it’s unlikely that it’s the fasting itself that is causing bloating. Most likely, bloating is occurring due to your food choices, medications, or other gas-promoting habits such as chewing gum.
  • Bloating is usually harmless and goes away on its own within a few hours or a day. However, sometimes bloating can indicate a serious medical condition such as IBS or IBD. 
  • If bloating doesn’t resolve with minor lifestyle changes, you get bloated frequently, or you notice other symptoms such as bloody stool and bloating, it’s best to consult a doctor.

(I’m sorry, but there seems to be a glitch in my reference manager. I noticed that references 3 and 4 in the old list are also not the correct ones. The list usually auto-updates, but it hadn’t until I hit refresh just now. I’m sorry about the inconvenience caused. )

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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